tv Book Discussion on Witness to the Revolution CSPAN August 15, 2016 1:00am-2:01am EDT
good evening, everybody. can everybody hear me? i am and events professor. thank you for coming out tonight and supporting your local independent bookstore we are thrilled to have you. i would like to begin by asking everyone to turn off or silence your cell phones. give them a check for me. i will tell you we are full of talks like the one you will hear tonight presented by those such as michael harvey who will be here tomorrow with their respective novels and on monday we will hear from steven axelrod. if you would like to hear from those followers on facebook, twitter or instead graham on your way out tonight. claire bingham is the author of revolution resisters and
class-action the landmark case that changed sexual harassment law which was the best book of the year and one speaking out against justice award and has offered women on the hill challenging the culture of congress. the former "newsweek" white house correspondent and rising uwritingappeared in "vanity fai" harper's bazaar, the washington monthly, and other publications. she's also produced documentary of the last mountain a critic's pick of "the new york times." before she speaks, we will be playing a short trailer for witness of the revolution and we are going to watch that right now. >> good evening.
tonight i want to talk to you on the subject of many people in all parts of the world. i would like to answer some of the questions that i know are on the minds of many. [inaudible] we were kids. we were people who came up and activism in the civil rights movement we were born in the antiwar movement and the women's movement, so all this ferment of what's happening in the principle was the combination of the term shocked the nation. people went nuts. >> i am a revolutionary.
>> he didn't know that i was incarcerated at the time. i knew immediately the police officers that have gone through and later it was proven. [inaudible] i was convinced. how ridiculous would be until i saw the ground in front of me turned off and at that moment they were like bullets shot at that point. >> 51 to 61 bullets.
independent bookstores left so i'm pleased to come to one this big and vibrant that has the community center. it required a lot of work as you could imagine so i'm glad she's here. the voices were tape recorded interviews that i conducted with 100 different people obviously not in that video but i talked to 100 people over the course of about three years who are involved in different parts of the movement. all of them lived in america.
i decided i was born in 1963. i grew up in new york city on central park west in the antiwar movement i knew it. i had them on my wall and i was a young feminist at the age of seven all of this was theater tv and when i graduated from college in 1985 it was exactly 15 years after the largest student strike in america. and the invasion of cambodia in 1970 the one took finals and yes
i graduated to just 15 years later to the middle of the administration and we went to battle on the streets against apartheid to try to get them to divest but otherwise it was very quiet. i knew that my life was different because of what happened in the 60s for any career that i wanted and any life i wanted to leave but i wanted to know what it was that i had missed and that it followed. i think you're allowed to go back every decade or so if it had been written about. the library that i collected in
my research was aske vast swathf it was a little cheeky of me to take this on as a kid who wasn't even there. but it seemed like the right time to visit the decade and talk to people who were activists because many of them were in their 60s and 70s and there was a lot of talk about. i wanted to catch them at a time they still remembered what they had done and wanted to reflect. so i sat about traveling the country to focus on the school here from august to august which is a period of time i considered to be the crescendo of the 60s in some ways i try to create a narrative in first person voice
woven together. i re-created many of the big events that occurred enough time from personal stories of the people i talk to. so, it was a really moving experience to get people to tell me what had happened to them. everyone remembered everything because it was so traumatic. that really wasn't the case. everyone was traumatized whether they had come back from the war or they were fighting against the war on the streets here or part of the counterculture or the feminist movement. everyone had done things they felt were extremely important and committed their lives in a way that no one in my generation had ever really done. so it was exciting for me to revisit all of that with them. august of 69 as many of you may remember was woodstock. i looked at woodstock through
the eyes of david harris who at the time was in jail and his wife was pregnant with his child and singing on stage telling everybody that 500,000 people who appeared at the farm in new york all about her husband who has started the resistance. it was a large group who decided to fight the draft which by the way affected the lives of 27 million people between 1965 to 19,732.2 million were drafted so it was a politicizing experience. he tried to convince as many people as possible to take the act of civil disobedience and go
to jail. david harris like many of the activists during this time was raised in the civil rights movement. so he had gone to mississippi as a robin morgan added us s s. soy people who were later in the antiwar movement they worked in the south end of david harris was a student at stanford so i'm going to read this section it was david harris speaking. i considered myself part of the movement from the day that i left mississippi will recall the movement. they call us the new left because it wasn't an ideology. there wasn't a specific politic attached to it. it was a set of values in finding ways to express themselves. i was in marches and rallies and demonstrations that there was the question of the construction
system and when any male turned 18 hmail turned18 he had to go t office and register for the selective service system. when you registere registered iu two cards, one was proof that you registered and the other was classification because under the selective service and there were various classifications which meant you were going to get a notice in the mail reporting which meant you were physically unable to perform. anybody in college making reasonable progress to a degree. that was a system that covered all of their lives. always there was floating out there when they call your number. we understandably focused on the a lot.
i mean, there were people going to graduate school, so they wouldn't get drafted. there were people getting married so they wouldn't get drafted because early on being married was an exemption. they were going to draft family man and they thought if you want to take a year off and go to paris and bright poetry you are headed for the tall grass. this defined everybody's life. so the draft is the spine of the story in many ways and it is probably in many ways the reason why. it was the weekend at generation because there's nothing that wakes you up more than realizing who you are voting for and how you act will have an impact on whether you live and die or go to the war or not.
we had the vietnam war in the draft and the political side of the revolution and working arm in arm there was also the psychedelic revolution and also how it had a profound impact towards the establishment so by the end of the 60s there was a massive movement of uprising. i conclude in many of the people i enter you they concluded that lsd played a part to some exte extent. i said in the buck it's why in the late 1960s with the secret ingredient that helped to propel a transformational attitude and lifestyle of the challenge nearly every principle that support of american society and culture in the 1950s. it was called a revolution by consciousness or a psychedelic revolution. by 1970, at least 2 million americans have dropped out of
it. and one third of all college students who smoke marijuana, then the escalation of the vietnam war an war and the resie to the draft in the second half of the decade combined with the counterculture created a nationwide spontaneous combustion. and again, david have a lot to say about that. he was at stanford in the mid-60s he was elected a student body president and he had long hair. at one point of fraternity brothers kidnapped him and shaved his head and it became very big news in san francisco it was on the front page of the papers. meanwhile, even though for a long time during the 60s the political left and the counterculture were not always simpatico and they have different ideals and different objectives. david harris found himself right in the eye of the two
revolutions taking place because he was in palo alto. this is what he told me about that. at the same time i took acid at the same time, he was doing a festival in the city. he was also a figure around stanford because he lived in the hills in the back of stanford. eventually we all took acid with him several times in a lot of hippies were looking to get stoned and dance and play. but serious business was how to deal with the machine chewing of southeast asia. all those things were mingled together and insisted of writing their own ticket because the tickets that were being written for them when i had and it wasn't just them it was the whole thing, growing your hair out, wearing clothes that didn't come from jc penny's.
you have to remember we grew up in the 60s. the 50s was the time of no options. there was only one way to be. you could be john wayne. what happened in the 60s was summarized as making options. there were other ways to be than the one everyone was insisting we were supposed to be and we were going to find them. after august, a group of antiwar activists, many of them shaved their beards and cut their hair up in new hampshire the organized something of the moratorium committee to end the war in vietnam.
and on october 15, there was the largest ever protest against the war they had teachings in different events to oppose the war. it proved it wasn't just a radical fringe or hippie freaks against the war. it was multi-generational now and they were turning against the war by 1969 more than 50% of americans were against the war. so the moratorium really proved that this was no longer a fringe movement, it is a much broader movement. they tried to intimidate the members of the committee. one of them was a man named david and he was gay.
i'm going to read up a bit of a precursor that the early nixon administration or the fbi was involved with. so i will call you what happened. it was quite shocking. i was terrified to tell my dad that if i was drafted i wouldn't serve which was the joke now because all i have to do is tell them i was gay and i'd have been out instantly. but being in jail for five years appealed more to me than letting anyone know i was gay. it's pretty powerful that's all i have to say. i would rather have gone to jail than to have every one know the truth about me. i wouldn't have been able to do anything i was doing would have been the cochair. i had to fight to get on board
when they were not given good roles. i was one of the supporters. i movement was still misogynist at this time. gay, not a chance in the world i would be able to do any of it. i would have immediately been discarded. and this is what happened right after. one night, i got drunk, went to a remote bar and a vision from god came in. he was exactly my type. intelligent, handsome masculine, and we ended up going home together. he said i know who you are. i work for the federal government. i don't want you to panic. i want to create a safe place for you. i have feelings for you. all the great poets that i loved and janis joplin records come anyway to make a long story short we started an affair and he did become a very safe place for me.
about 30 days into it, he said he had to go away for the weekend. i went to a shop and sat in the booth waiting for it. they pulled into the booth and sat across from me and showed me their badges. when chomsky because someone shows you a badge how many times have you taken a look at it in those days? i don't know if they were real. they poured out on the table some pictures of the two of us having sex and it was as if someone had stuck a knife into my gut. my first thought was i have to warn frank, so i ran to his apartment. i used my key, got in, and the place was totally empty. there wasn't a dust ball or anything else in the apartment. i never saw him again.
they gave me three days to get out of the moratorium or they were going to send these pictures to my family and the press. so i got very drunk and told my friends i had a heart condition and was sick. i decided to kill myself. i bought a gun and put it under my mattress and was going to kill myself but i wanted to get drunk enough to do it. but then i had a moment of clarity and realized there was no way we could send the photographs to the press because how were they going to explain it? did the government want them to know that they were filming homosexuals and blackmailing them? maybe they have as much to lose as i did so i sobered up and when they met him -- when they met up with me three days later and asked me are you getting out, i said send it to them i don't care and walked away. anytime the phone rang and someone said your mom and dad is on the phone i thought they had gotten the pictures. i dreaded hearing from them.
every time they worry that they had the photographs, so i immediately pulled back and stopped. there was another moratorium on november 15. this one took place in washington, d.c.. 500,000 people came to dc for three days. it was absolutely one of the largest single events in one city after against the war and ended up with what david organized of people marching from arlington cemetery to the servicemen all thservice then ae capitol building putting the factors in makeshift coffins in the capital and carry him into the white house. so that was the best revenge.
one of the things he participated in at that moratorium there were signs people have the same free the people in the reason why the signs had come up on november 13 and invested in the reporter who had just broken a story about the massacre they had moved into a village anthe village and kil4 civilians who were mostly women and young children and it was an absolutely devastating story that did more to help the movement than any protester march ever occurred and also revealed to many people how difficult the war was to win and
also the u.s. had an unspoken rule called kill anything that moves and across the body count that was important. so it was happening on a smaller scale and i interviewed some soldiers who were there. it wasn't just a one time events. it was symptomatic of one of the many problems in the war and how it was being fought. was it investigative reporter who didn't want to talk to me and had to go through multiple people to get to him. eventually, he told me the whole story of how they were doin doin investigative reporting of how he got the first tip about the lieutenant who was in trouble.
he found his lawyer in salt lake city and they told him where he was and he went to south carolina and after days of hunting in the military base kelly ended up telling him everything he knew which wouldn't benefit. later on, he finds other people in the truth and one of the most important people that he discovered i won't argue about. finding him wasn't that easy. the only thing i knew from the roster is that he was from indiana. so i just found every one that i could find them state. i finally found someone near a place called the go che [inaudi] i said i'm looking for paul is
he okay. i said i was his leg. i said i'm just a reporter i want to talk about what happened in the war. she said i don't know if he will talk to you. is it okay if i come? >> i can't promise. she had a deep voice. so the next day i went to indianapolis and drove. it might have been ten in the morning when i got there. i couldn't find his place for a long time. it was a chicken farm but when i pulled in i could see that it was all messed up and there were chickens all over the place. his mom comes out and she's a little old lady, she's 50 that looks closer to 70 beat down and living in an old wooden shack. so i ask is he in there is it okay if i go in and she said yes of course.
i sent them a good boy and they made him a murderer. it's one of those wines that will stick with you forever. i sat down and asked him about his leg which is always what you do. you've got to do that. after a few minutes i said okay tell me your story and he smiled happy to have somebody not pretending that nothing ever happened. he said i just began to shoot. i shot and shot. i spoke to the kids in the next six months to write the book after doing the first five articles. and of course he won a pulitzer for that. so that was november. we are not even into 1978 and by december, a few things happened
but most notably, the leader in a very charismatic black panther based in chicago of the things he preached he was for racial unity and he wanted a rainbow coalition before jesse jackson which made the fbi very nervous. it was at its peak and that's what i wrote about it. it was the black panther party which in reaction to the brutality publicly declared war on the police.
the black panther party was the greatest threat to the internal security of the country and he assigned the fbi agents to expose, disrupt, mr. racked and discredit and otherwise neutralize the panthers and other new left organizations. dedicated to the complete destruction of our traditional democratic values and the principles of the free government.
they went after the panthers first. they didn't all infiltrate and many went to have a lot of people who were underground and disrupting from inside all these organizations and encouraged them to be more violent. he and his colleague at four in the morning. they say that it's a firefight but only two bullets were shown to have gone through the outside from the inside to the outside. so, it was clearly an fbi
arranged with the chicago police assassination come and it was extremely upsetting to the white left of the radicals that split off from the students in the democratiin ademocratic societyf from them in june of 1969 and created a more militant radical group. she had been in colombia in 1968 during the student uprising. we said it's more a.
we identified that as being racist, not to take any risk. we didn't want to be liberal to be a liberal is to be a hypocrite was to be a betrayer so part of the thinking is which side are you on a. we would support the people fighting and taking the risks of that became the challenge for the weathermen. the movement opposed to the weather underground and the movement. i interviewed several movements of the black panther movement
and as well as the weather underground and that was fascinating especially it was very reflective about what they had done. it's what motivated them to act the way that they acted. in february, the weathermen bombed the house in new york city he was the judge presiding over the panther 21 trials which was at the time the largest case that went on for months and months and 21 panthers have been arrested and were in jail.
it was interesting to hear the point of view on march 6 the weathermen blew up the same time as townhouse on 11 straight three of them were killed and they were making a bomb they planned to detonate and it would have killed dozens of people with the officers and the waiters. wanting to fight fire with fire after that occurred they all went underground.
they assume fake names and moved all over the country. many of them went left. they went to cash only jobs and many of them lived underground for up to ten years and they joined a community of underground people. there were a lot of people who had escaped drug laws and black panthers and different people involved in the black panther movement, so there was a large community of hundreds of thousands of people living underground. after the townhouse explosion, the impact of that on the new left. it played right into nixon's hands. it was the grandfather of the
antiwar movement and who i interviewed multiple times fold me about the townhouse was pretty stunning. there were about ten of them. the end of the 60s is really 1975 when it came to its national and. i didn't didn't think it dignifiesignaled the end that'st went wrong, what were they doing because for a period of time the last was all he knew. we knew. there were only fingernails left. i just thought they were beyond logical sense. nobody ever came to me and said
we are going to kill soldiers. it was one that said if the government is killing innocent vietnamese and our job is to kill innocent american soldiers. i looked at the practical morality like what the fuck are you doing you are carrying out an act that will carry out the peace movement. you might as well say that you are organizing for satan. hey everybody stand on the street corners and join us. but what the fuck are you doing it's only possible because they didn't care about influencing american opinions. after the townhouse in may,
president nixon announced the invasion of cambodia. he had been secretly bombing cambodia for a year but he sent in troops and this was integrated at all with any sort of popular opinion. they protested all over the country and as we just saw on may 4, the students were killed and shot by the ohio national guard and after that the student strike took place over the rest of the month. and the company came as close i think certainly as it ever had in the 20th century. it was a moment of pure chaos.
it ended in some ways at least morally on august 24 at the university of wisconsin when four men bombed a building and blew up the entire building is a lot of research was taking place. it had been a hot issue for years because the chemical researchers were working in that building and a man named carl armstrong, who i interviewed him and his brother and two other men who had been on the student newspaper decided that that would be an important symbolic building to blow up. and they detonated an entire u-haul truck of ammunition and it would be considered the
largest domestic terrorist act before the oklahoma bombing. unfortunately they killed a 33-year-old physics researcher who had three children and it was antiwar consulting happened to be working at two or three in the morning. and so the armstrong brothers and their friends went on the loose and went to canada to be fugitives for several years before they were discovered. carl armstrong did about ten years of time. most of the people did time. if you hadn't gone to jail, his example was extreme, but others at the time did time for civil disobedience it was a sort of badge of honor. but he did about ten years and that was considered even worse than the underground bombing because it had occurred
afterwards. after the bombing they took up symbolic bombings with no intention of killing people and they didn't actually kill anyone. nor were they cost. it was one of the largest manhunt in history, and i interviewed an fbi agent named bill bryson who followed them for ten years and was absolutely fascinating and knows more about them than anybody because he listened to over conversations. he was very funny about how women were complaining and he felt that was not true.
there were a lot of women but bill bryson told me this it was used by the fbi and of his 38 i had to memorize at one time, the weather underground was sophisticated in their devices, more so than many people realize. none of them have been sold. they put one in the pentagon in 1972 so with that in mind, we would still like to find out who did them. however, the statute of limitations is over for all of them except for the golden gate police department where the police officer was killed and nobody has ever been named. we closed the investigation from
1977. the fbi was involved in their biggest scandal and agents were involved for illegal spying and disruptive behavior of the weather underground and by 1980 many of the leaders were able to come in and no one ever went to jail because no evidence could be used against them in court. the same thing happened for daniel ellsberg who is one of the other people i interviewed in the pentagon papers and who was going to trial for teasing, but the early plumbers had broken into the psychiatrist office. instead of going to jail, watergate occurred and nixon and
hoover's war eventually morphed into a regular habit after beatrix and eventually got the better of them. but a lot of the people i interviewed peavey that nixon's focus and the enemy list if you look who's on the list many of them were members of this movement and briefly got the better of him and was very much a precursor to watergate. that's all i have for now. i would love to take questions. [applause] does anyone have any stories they would like to share?
a bunch of students went out and some person came walking up the sidewalk and target interacting telling them they were crazy and why were they doing this. so they started ganging up on this man and they took his side just for fun you spend a lot of time talking about the violent part of the 60s. i didn't hear any mention of this side of the. >> i focus on a particular year. many of them are quite violent
they were heavily armed and last night i was talking to someone in the movement and as a precursor talking about how we went in certain directions and i talked about how i used a lecture of the sun with those guys walking out of that and he was a noted producer of law and order now ... time kind of a radical person so i was wondering why the black studies into your narrative. >> i didn't do quite now. but they left the panthers and
didn't buy in they were very much against the panthers are doing. so i tried to interview eric who was part of the new haven nine and had gone to jail for a year or so i tried to weave that into the whole story. at the same time so many other movements were going on at the same time. by sticking to the chronology i tried to leave different stories together.
it was the early spokesman of women and so i wanted to show the kind of global reach of this great reveal that was going on. i couldn't go that deep in the environmental movement of cour course. it's to a lot of the ugliness of the antiwar movement and violence on the street is that people are changing their lives personally and that was their political statement in a way.
>> it's like writing about what a lot of us live through not to get into much detail. my best friend was one of the four people in the center. if you recorded the movement today would say let's go see his father. and i had met fred hampton. it was an honor and a way to be able to say that. it just happens to committee for
human rights in chicago were having the meeting to decide what they call the medical presence which it's still cold weather man. he showed up and showed them not to support it and how he still had a lot of support. >> the irony is the panthers didn't want them to get militant. they realized it was a dead end but they were doing it in a way to defend the panthers. >> without going into this whole story. the other side, not the dramatic
stuff where fred hampton also spoke. i want to ask about a couple of dimensions to the police and the government repression and one had to do with sts diffraction in of the disintegration was crucial in my mind of the story of 69-70 and the dissipation of the movement. i've done a little bit of anecdotal research. were you able to come up with more information about factoring at the national convention in the summer of 1969 which then led to the weather and the
when it was the working class and all of this, but they just hardhats who heeded the protesters or was this manipulative and was there a strong working class element in the movement that we don't know as much about as maybe we shou should. i know there is a new book coming out on the weather underground that's based on the new documentation that has been revealed in the fbi documentation. and that may also have come it hasn't come out yet, but it may have information on the convention in chicago. one thing i do know is the people i talked to were getting pamphlets from the black panthers.